Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Diversion 2.0 Thirty Day Movie Challenge -- Day 2

Day 2: A Movie You Hate (Or Just Plain Really, Really Don't Like)

As a general rule, I try to avoid watching movies that I have a fairly good idea I will not like. This way, I save money and, more importantly, time, because an awful movie is an hour and a half of my life I will never get back. However, there are certain occasions when I will rent an ostensibly terrible movie to see exactly how bad it is. Sometimes I get lucky and am pleasantly surprised, and others I should have been careful what I wished for. Today’s entry is about the latter.

I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)

Rest assured that I did not pay to see this movie, but gah the hour that I did spend watching it still weighs heavily on my heart (I ducked out halfway through to buy groceries, and was immensely disappointed when I returned and it wasn’t over yet). Beth Cooper is coming-of-age high school comedy about a socially inept young man named Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust). Denis, like most nerdy kids in movies like this, fosters an unrequited affection for the school popular girl, the eponymous Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere), and, during his valedictorian speech, confesses his love for dear ol’ Beth in front of the whole graduating body. The rest of the film concerns the wa-acky hijinks between Denis and his friend Rich Munsch (Jack T. Carpenter) as they buy alcohol underage, duck Beth’s toolbox boyfriend, Kevin (Shawn Roberts), and do other, stupid crap that could only happen in a movie about what Chris Columbus thinks happens to high schoolers on graduation day (avoid a herd of stampeding cattle, crash a Hummer through the wall of a house, etc).

Based on the novel of the same name by former The Simpsons writer Larry Doyle, I Love You, Beth Cooper is a nigh-unendurable slog through umpteen, outdated high school clich├ęs, miserable, unfunny sight gag “humor,” and flat, unlikable characters (with one small exception). I’m a bit at a loss; I’ve enjoyed Chris Columbus’ previous work on the Home Alone series and the first two Harry Potter movies, but the entire project feels like a parody of high school comedies, akin more to Not Another Teen Movie, but without the benefit of lines like “You’ll lose the bet, but you’ll learn a valuable lesson.” Columbus’s cartoony, slapstick approach to filmmaking may have worked for a movie about Macaulay Culkin repelling the likes of Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, but it falls incredibly short when shoehorned into a teen comedy from 2009. Warwick Davis-short.

Yep, there they all are. The costuming should tell you everything you'll ever need to know about any of these characters.

The acting doesn’t fare much better. Hayden Panettiere flounders in her attempts to play a rebellious girl who doesn’t give a flying f@$# about anything, while poor Paul Rust is stuck doing his best Michael Cera impression for the entirety of the film. Beth’s group of Plastics-esque wing women (Lauren London and Lauren Storm) aren’t given much to do other than “pout and look hot,” while Kevin and his gaggle of cronies flex their muscles, pop their collars, and generally act like they’re treating the entire film as an audition for Crabbe and Goyle. The one (1) bright spot of the whole picture is Jack T. Carpenter as Rich, who uses his character’s closeted-gayness to provide the film with some bloody energy and charisma, and the film’s best scene comes from a montage involving Rich near the two-thirds mark.

Honestly, I’m making I Love You, Beth Cooper sound like an average, everyday bad movie, when, in fact, it’s as if someone took the University scenes from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and made an entire film out of them. The entire production seems hateful towards its audience, and the awful story, insipid dialogue, and turgid feel of the whole goings-on is terrible enough to qualify as a natural disaster. The effort it takes to stoop as low as it does from minute to minute is Herculean, and I might actually be proud of Columbus for squeezing off such a colossal turd, if only I didn’t want to beat him about the face with a copy of Mean Girls for doing so.

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